the ReFab Diaries: upcycled decor
Showing posts with label upcycled decor


This idea for the kitchen was inspired partly by Pinterest and partly by need! First, I have a whole Pinboard dedicated to new uses for fallen branches. I love the many ways you can repurpose them indoors and used branches as a Christmas tree last year. Then I hung on to some of the sturdier ones when I moved in January (I got odd looks from the movers!) 

The need arose when I found myself staring at my new "back splash" every time I washed dishes. It's ugly. It's in serious need of fresh paint, or a real makeover! But I'm renting ... so whatever I do has to be temporary. I also had no way to organize the paper towel, sponge etc. And that's how the idea arose. I spent $2 on leather belts at a thrift store and everything else I needed, I already had. 



This weekend I made myself tackle the dull things I've been avoiding since I moved. Like hemming curtains. And moving stuff to the basement storage. My reward? Making this ... thing. 

I'm not quite sure what to call it. A book vase? (I already made something I called that) Organic art? Maybe a book bud vase? I'm really not sure, so I'm calling it a mixed-media upcycle. And, whatever the name, I love, love, love how it turned out! And it was easy to make so read on for instructions!




I have the time and energy to execute about a quarter of the projects swirling in my head (or on my Pinboards for that matter). And because I'm pressed for time, I usually sit on ideas until I think I've landed on the fastest route to execution. This often backfires (of course!). But not this time. This time, once I'd gathered what I needed, the actual making and hanging took an hour. 




It's a decorating rule-of-thumb: a coat of paint and new drawer handles = a complete makeover. Right? This is true of kitchen cabinets, dressers... doors of any sort. And it seems you can repurpose pretty much anything as a drawer pull. These are my 12 favorites (please click on each one to go to the complete tutorial)


1. Champagne corks


2. Alphabet blocks


3. Sewing machine bobbins


4. Vintage jewelry


5. Paintbrushes


6. Vintage car door handles / window winders


7. Nuts and bolts


9. Doll limbs (and head!)


10. Purse strap (or leather belt)


11. Plastic toys


12.  Vintage rulers or yardsticks








A little Sunday morning fun. Which only barely compensates for the internet being down. Building a blog post from my phone is NOT fun.

Anyway, this is probably my 4th reuse of this frame. I found it under the back deck of my apartment building in 2010 and it's earned its keep!

Today, it's part mood board, part decor. I have a large collection of random prints, postcards, calendar pages etc. Too large. But I go into it on occasion and group things. Like a visual free-association exercise. It helps when I'm trying to see a pallette in the mess. In this case, my living room.

I'm not quite there (my mess is still a mess) but I like this little junky result right now!







There's a furniture makeover. There's even a rescue. Then, there's what Retropolitan did with this dresser - more like a resuscitation, or resurrection! I don't shy away from a challenge (see this) but this transformation blows me away. I can't wait for my next alley rescue ... wood veneer here I come! Visit Retropolitan for the complete refab.





It's been a while since I was inspired to create a round up like this. But this morning I saw the ironing-board Christmas tree below and realized (a) I have always hated ironing and (b) I've never thought about how ironing boards could be repurposed! 



And let's face it, the modern metal ironing board is ugly and the leg mechanisms break. So they're perfect candidates for a good upcycle! Here are two groups of ideas for interesting things to do with old ironing boards, one for metal and one for wood:


Last week I posted a round-up of ideas for upcyling cardboard tubes. While I worked on that, an idea for a light slowly dawned (no, I cannot resist the obvious pun). This light was simple to make and because I used found materials, cost nothing.

A couple of weeks ago, an early morning run resulted in found treasure ... this little table. If the sun hadn't been hitting the stainless steel in a blindingly bright way, I might not have noticed it. But I did. And it took about 30 seconds to establish the important things about it: the top is solid wood, the frame is in perfect condition and it's balanced. So I grabbed it. The makeover was fun and easy!



The mini-blinds. If you rent an apartment (flat) anywhere in the world, I believe you probably live with mini-blinds. They're ugly. And hard to clean. And I think that when people dream of owning a home, they also dream of a life without mini-blinds.




If anyone tried to profile my "style" it would be, at best, eclectic. At worst, disjointed and fickle. Case in point: I saw a $98 clock on Fab.com that made me look twice. That little "I can make that" voice went off in my head like a siren... after all, how cool would it be to turn an expensive "Fab" into a "ReFab"? On the other hand, it's not quite "me". There's an aesthetic out there epitomized, for me, by Ariele Alasko. It resonates for me.


I found out recently, care of BA's inflight magazine, that there are over 900 used bookshops in Johannesburg. This makes it a record holder. It's also home to Collector's Treasury - possibly the largest used bookshop in the southern hemisphere. As a South African, I'm a bit embarrassed to say that I've never really considered JhB a "destination". I pass through there on my way to Cape Town. But. Now I have this extremely interesting nugget of information, I might make an effort in the future.



Victoria (Confessions of a New-Old homeowner) is my hero for this refab. It pretty much nails everything I hope to capture in an upcycle, repurpose or makeover. Something ugly is made beautiful. All parts are used - zero waste. Both "afters" make sense and work in her home. The whole thing was done on a dime.

The two sets of instructions are housed in different places. Start here and check out the whole blog while you're at it. Instructions for the cage light are housed at Brooklyn Limestone.







Old encyclopedias ... big, heavy and out-of-date content wise. So how about turning them into sturdy bookshelves? The "bookshelves made of books" thing never gets old. I love the twist on this one and the fun color choice. Complete how-to at Instructables






This is just one of many amazing upcyles created by Destinations Vintage. I don't know that I really need to say much about this lamp - it's beautiful and it's genius repurposing. Check out all the work that went into it here ... then enjoy the rest of the blog!




Brooms, dustpans, mops and buckets. They are good for making art, organizing your life and seating. And you thought they were old fashioned cleaning tools. Hah! :)



One of the most popular ReFabs on this blog is an amazing lamp makeover using duct tape and 2L soda bottles. Classy upcycling of plastic bottles never gets old for me.

This lovely tutorial (care of Instructables) is my new favorite. Because it's thrifty and simple. And the instructions are great. They're calling it a Designer Paper Lamp. I think the more important thing to call out is that it's upcycled soda bottle lighting!



Here's a familiar story: I just happened to be around when my neighbor was throwing out a lamp. Solid wood base. Old electrical cord but in perfect working order. How could I resist? Small issue... no shade. I took my time deciding what would work in the room - I wanted warm light. And I wanted to create something that would work in a vintage / boho-inspired space. Something a bit like this: 


Wow. How did it get to be January 8, 2014?? A post from me is WAY overdue ... my apologies. My year got off to a streptococcal kind of start. Horrible. But, here I am and I've got several fun bits and pieces to share with you.


Here's the third installment in my furniture-rescue series (click through to see the Gang-tagged dresser and the Blue Mirror).
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